The List: 12 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

February 1, 2009

Shake off the cold-weather blahs with these can’t miss spirit warmers.


What’s short, cold, and gray all over? February - that time of year when holidays are long over and spring feels a decade away. Moods tend to droop, and so can the productivity levels in your practice. Stoke up your employees’ collective morale during this sun-deprived time - you’ll all benefit and your practice will, too. Here are some ideas:

1. Hold a friendly competition. Have one person gather/create trivia questions. E-mail one question to the entire staff every hour on the hour. Employees score points for answering the fastest, or just give points for answering correctly. At the end of the day, award a prize or two for the high scorers. We at Physicians Practice do this every month.

2. Color your world. Create a makeshift graffiti wall to supply an outlet for everyone’s inner Jackson Pollock. Mount a large piece of butcher paper along a nonpatient hallway. Supply markers. Encourage everyone to make their marks.

3. Have a retro St. Valentine’s Day. Remember how fun it was getting friendly valentines from all your classmates? Relive that in the office. Make file-folder “mailboxes” for each staffer. Everyone writes something nice about each person on a slip of (pink) paper and puts it in that person’s folder. Another idea: Secret Cupid (small) gift exchange.

4. Eat your feelings. How about a surprise hot cocoa station one afternoon? And not just any cocoa: Make it with milk, chocolate syrup, and a dash of vanilla. Supply mint candies, cinnamon sticks, white chocolate shavings, and those ever-cool mini marshmallows.

5. Sponsor a rejuvenation day. If you don’t mind spending a little money, have a massage therapist come in and offer 10 to 15 minute sessions. Just for fun, hire a palm reader to tell fortunes during lunch. Or, hire a yogi to direct the group in simple poses to promote wellness and relieve stress. Supply green tea and wholesome snacks.

6. Rally the troops. Company meetings and picnics are usually summer events, but have yours in the winter. First bring everyone together to set goals and refocus, then take the staff to a winter sporting event, cosmic bowling, or some other fun venue.

7. Feng Shui your office. Schedule a clean-up day where staff are allowed to wear jeans and everyone pitches in to clean, purge, organize, and freshen up the office. Nothing says good morale like a sparkling clean, clutter-free work space. Supply pizza and music.

8. Cook up camaraderie. Ordering lunch in is always nice, but how about kicking it up a notch like Emeril? Plan a potluck where everyone brings in a favorite family or cultural dish and associated recipe cards. Or theme it: Chili Cook-off? Soup’s on? Always provide a sign-up list to avoid duplicates.

9. Promote laughter. Put up a bulletin board in the break room or back office and encourage everyone to post childhood pictures of themselves. Let the guffawing at each other’s then-stylish (or not so stylish) hairdos begin. This also works as a Guess-Who-I-Am? competition.

10. Play a progressive board game. Bring in a travel Scrabble game. Start it by playing a word. Then pass the game to another staffer, who plays another word and then passes it on. Continue until pieces run out. Post the score, and try to beat it next month. This also works well with Sudoku or crossword puzzles.

11. Celebrate a random holiday. February is American Heart Month. It’s also Snack Food Month. Plan some festivities around these - perhaps bringing in potluck healthy snacks one week and favorite junk food indulgences the next. Or check the Internet for other commemorative events in February and devise your own celebrations.

12. Do something nice for someone else. Needy people still have needs after the holidays, and you’ll all feel good providing some help. Ideas: Charity walk. Bowl-a-thon. Clothing drive. U.S. troops donation box. Whatever’s meaningful to your staff.

Abigail Beckel is managing editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at abigail.beckel@cmpmedica.com.

Shirley Grace is associate editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at shirley.grace@cmpmedica.com.

This article originally appeared in the February 2009 issue of Physicians Practice.